Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein kept up their efforts to justify a slew of new policies to get tough on crime Monday.
“We can never cede a single neighborhood or a block or a street corner to criminal gangs,” Sesssions said in his prepared address to the National Association of District Attorneys (NDAA) Summer Summit in Minneapolis.
Writing in a Friday op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle, Rosenstein sought to bring the message of the “Sessions Memo” home in one of the most liberal corners of America. The policy, which ends Obama era directives to disregard mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses and aims to bring federal prosecutorial policy back in line with the law, has come under heavy criticism from the “criminal justice reform” movement and sections of the media.
According to Rosenstein, the previous policy was not having the desired effect. He wrote:
After that policy was adopted, the total number of drug dealers charged annually by federal prosecutors fell from nearly 30,000 — where it had stood for many years — to just 22,000.
Meanwhile, drug-related violence has surged. There has been a significant spike in murders, including an 11 percent increase in 2015 alone.
Rosenstein also dismissed notions that the Sessions Memo was aimed at increasing federal prosecutions of low-level drug users, writing:
Minor drug offenders rarely face federal prosecution, and offenders without serious criminal records usually can avoid mandatory penalties by truthfully identifying their co-conspirators.
The Sessions policy is serious about crime. It does not aim to fill prisons with low-level drug offenders.
In addition to the Sessions Memo, the attorney general’s comments to the NDAA, an organization that represents state and local prosecutors, focused on efforts to coordinate with these local offices to bring about the administration’s public safety agenda. For example, he trumpeted the work of DOJ’s Office of Violence Against Women in providing 300 additional prosecutors around the country and told the prosecutors:
Real improvements in public safety can only come from partnerships. I believe that state, local, and federal relations are strong now, and I want to see them get better.
Helping you do your jobs, helping the police get better, and celebrating the noble, honorable, essential and challenging work you do will always be a top priority of mine.
As is typical, illegal aliens also featured prominently in Sessions’s program to make America safe again. “Our goal is not to reduce illegal immigration but to end illegal immigration,” he said.